Garden & Greenhouse


Frozen Plants! Or . . . Not!

Posted August 24th, 2016 by Mike McGroarty in ,

Well Mother Nature has really cranked up the ice machine not only here in the north, but in a lot of southern states as well.

People from the south have been asking me if the cold weather is affecting our plants here in the north. Plants are amazing little beings and the plants that we typically grow here in the north can withstand incredibly cold temperatures.

Even little tiny rooted cuttings that look as frail and as flimsy as can be, and look like they could never withstand cold temperatures. Yet we routinely see temperatures in the single digits or below zero. But as soon as spring arrives they wake up and make new buds like nobody’s business.

How do they do that? Why do our plants survive such brutal cold, when just a brief cold snap in the south can do incredible damage to plants?

The answer is simple; our northern plants can sense that winter is coming on as soon as the nights start to get cold. The new growth all hardens off so it’s not so tender, then as winter arrives the plants have an internal mechanism that actually separates the water in the plant from the tender cells. That way when the plant freezes there is little damage done to the plant. It’s when plants freeze quickly that they suffer the most damage.

That’s why in the north many people cover their container grown plants in hoop houses covered with white plastic. The white plastic actually slows down the freezing process, but once frozen it keeps the plants frozen so they don’t constantly go through the freezing and thawing cycle.

Mike McGroarty is the owner of McGroarty Enterprises and the author of several books. You can visit his website at and read his blog at

Want more information? Try these articles:

Help! My Orchid Was Damaged by the Heat!

Protecting Plants for the Winter

Saving Snow Damaged Trees and Shrubs

Which Plants Are The Most Deer Resistant?

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